'This means nothing? This means a great deal,' Part II
predicts an Obama win, but not by a blowout. Electoral College: Obama 286, McCain 252. There are plenty of caveats in the report. ... After reading Bob Novak's excellent The Prince of Darkness
, I respect his predictions. ... E-P report via Drudge
'Pinch me. I must be dreaming'
Hub Blog interupts this Boston blog to bring you news about ... Illinois politics.
Think stuffing loot up a bra is a big deal? In Illinois they stash the loot in vaults. The feds appear to be gunning for their second straight sitting Illinois governor. ... Mark Brown
, an old acquaintence from my Illinois days, lays it out, almost gleefully so. I earlier brushed on the Rezko-Levine-Cellini topic here
. The Obama angle is interesting. But not damning. There are two ways to view Obama's Rezko connections: 1.) He's a product of the Illinois political system or 2.) He's an escapee from the Illinois political system. I tilt toward the latter because I'm in a charitable mood these days.
'This means nothing? This means a great deal'
Here's another eight reasons
why my close-election instinct is probably way off at this point. ... I would have put the economy at No. 1. The race would have been surely close had it not been for the Wall Street meltdown. (And the beauty of that assertion is that no one can prove me wrong.) ... The CBS/NYT poll
gives Obama a double-digit lead -- enough, if it holds, to theoretically buffer it against any Bradley effect. Fox
still has the race as close. But one gets the strong impression Fox is merely pulling a variation of the 2006 The Iraq War Is Going Swell spiel. ... Peggy
finds much to admire in Obama. But she's worried, as am I, about one-party control of Washington. I'm voting for Obama largely to punish Republicans. I also think it would be great to elect an African-American president. But one-party government has a recent bad record. Look what Republicans did with their one-party control. ... P.S. - Look no farther than what one-party rule has brought to Massachusetts.Update
-- Michael Barone
predicts Dems won't get a filibuster-proof majority.
How hedge-fund managers view the world.
... Alan Greenspan previously opposed regulation of mortgage securities -- and has since admitted he was wrong. Alan Greenspan also previously opposed regulation of hedge funds -- and will soon be proven wrong once again. Hedge funds used to be an exotic niche. Now they're mainstream and infested with hordes of hacks.
'It’s not going to be close. I’m betting on it.'
Bert explains why my presidential-race gut instinct is wrong (see post immediately below):
National polls don’t matter because the popular vote doesn’t matter. Why measure or consider something that’s irrelevant? Here’s the part of the Rasmussen page linked that is important: “Rasmussen Reports Electoral College projections now show Obama leading 260-163. When “leaners” are included, Obama leads 313-174.”
This is fairly consistent with what’s showing up on a bunch of other sites that incorporate the latest state-by-state polls. The EC vote spreads have been growing, not shrinking. The popular vote may be getting closer, but it might be due to the solid red staters getting fired up in response to the accusations of socialism. That would gibe with the stories of increased **ahem** fervor at McCain/Palin rallies.
The Bradley effect will have to be a solid 5-8% swing in a lot of different states around the country for McCain to win. Obama has almost enough EC votes to win without picking up any tossup states or states already leaning his way. McCain needs to take all of the solid red, light red, tossup states and just about all of the light blue states. You noted this cleverly in football language.
It’s not getting closer. It’s not going to be close. I’m betting on it…
Never bet against a man who puts his money where his mouth is.
'But John McCain is looking for a sack'
Hey, Kevin's Byner effect
may actually be happening -- at least in Pennsylvania
CHESTER, Pa. - This is football country, so let's use a football analogy: In the closing days of the presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama has the ball and he's driving deep into opposing territory. But John McCain is looking for a sack.
He technically needs a sack, fumble, TD runback, onside-kick recovery and successful Hail Mary pass to win, if most polls are accurate. But speaking of polls, I don't know what to make of this latest one
. They're all over the map. I'm still going under the assumption it'll be a close election. We'll see. ...Update
-- But early-voting polls
indicate a huge Obama lead. ... Aren't media outlets voluntarily supposed to withhold reporting on exit polls until all voting ends? Isn't this a form of early reporting on exit polls? Maybe I'm wrong. ...
'Great Scenes from Otherwise Appalling Films'
launches a new film series: 'Great Scenes from Otherwise Appalling Films.' Appropriately enough, the first scene he analyzes is from Dracula: Prince of Darkness.
The reviews on Amazon aren't that bad. ... My niece and nephews are going through a vampire fanaticism phase, assisted by a certain uncle determined to scare them into their parents' bed at night. For the Halloween weekend, I've ordered up a Netflix special
for their viewing pleasure. ...
'Caught on video'
I knew she was dumb. But not that dumb.
Pinko socialist commies discover Adam Smith
It’s good to see the pinko socialist commie redistributionists at BMG embracing free-marketer Adam Smith here
. I’ll remember it when one of them, post-Obama election, advocates a single-payer government health-care system over other options. … Of course, no one has really read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
. So you have to cheat
. ... Back to the pinko socialist commie redistributionists: They're right. The right-wing wingnuts are going bonkers over Obama's graduated-income-tax remarks, even though graduated taxes of a sort were embraced by Smith and have been part of the American tax code for decades. But keep in mind that Smith was speaking in the context of the equal right of ordinary people to prosper, something the clerical and artistocratic types of his time didn’t like and something fanatical redistributionists of our time still don't like. Smith was also a bumbler
when it came to putting his tax policies into practice:
I mean, here (Adam Smith) is the smartest guy in the world, and he is wrong. And he is often wrong in several different ways, or he will be right and then argue against himself. And in there, he starts babbling about taxes. And he goes on to give the government all sorts of -- not advice really about taxes, but he just starts talking about taxes. And it is living proof, if ever anything were, that politics will turn anyone into an idiot. You can take the brightest person in the world. And if you get them to start speaking politically, they will turn into morons. And it happened to Adam Smith.Update
And the government looked at this. And no matter what advice you give to government, the result is always the same -- more government. It is like telling the dog to stay out of the garbage. All the dog hears is "garbage."
notes how, behaviorial perceptions aside, 'markets are not perfectly efficient' and there are 'limited circumstances' when government has to intervene. I thought that was common sense. But it apparently wasn't the case for some. ... Note to Reader Steve: The description of pinko socialist commie redistributionists as pinko socialist commie redistributionists was an official stab at humor.
Dean Barnett, RIP
... Nice local tributes to Dean here
Kevin also has some past radio interviews
with Dean. ... MassLive found this classic Dean ode
to Manny, warts and all, from 2006, pre-2008 Manny-being-Manny implosion.
'Oh, but there is more ...'
has discovered a masterpiece of paranoia.
'The Byner effect,' Part II
Thanks to Kevin
for having me on his show last night. A special guest appearance was made by regular Hub Blog contributor Armchair General Savin Hill, whose indentity was finally revealed on air. But if you didn't listen to the show (or don't listen to it here
), you'll never know, for it's back to his nom de guerre
, for national security reasons. ... I felt like a left-winger last night, caught in between Kev and the Armchair General. But, as usual, it was a fun show. Kevin was still clinging to his Byner effect
hopes, though not with a lot of conviction.Update
-- An unhappy listener writes to Kev and Cc's me to confirm my Alan Colmes status last night, from a conservative perspective:
Please request Jay Fitzgerald to do a little bit more work (critical thinking) about Obama while he's on the air . . . at least rise to the level of exertion (once again, critical thinking) that he regularly attains on Hub Blog.
None of my lefty friends will ever believe what I'm being called these days.
, I've decided to recalibrate my Palin formulation
from 'Good political move, bad for country' to 'Bad political move, bad for country.' No further changes are anticipated between now and the election. ... I should have stuck with my initial downright moron
instinct. ... Actually, she did galvanize the base and she is a talented force. But the problem is that she's more of a perky TV morning-show host than a political leader. She's good in front of the camera (except when confronted by another perky TV morning-show host). She's bright and adapts well. But it's more akin to the adaptable brightness required when switching from one topic she doesn't know about to another topic she doesn't know about ... Thanks for showing us how to make a perfect western omelet, Julie. Next up: An interview with the Pakistani president. But first a word from our sponsors.
... Etc., etc. ... David Brooks
continues with his never-ending Big Trend/Big Categories quest. This time it's 'progressive conservatives' and 'Hamiltonian-Bull Moose' Republicans. Transaltion: Republicans need moderation. Put yet another way: How much longer can the GOP hold together its polar-opposite Ayn Rand and Phylis Shafley wings of the party? The former is now discredited post-Wall Street meltdown, and the latter has never been accepted by the mainstream. ... Lawrence Kudlow
has a good formula idea: 'Reagan + Friedman + Keynes.' Reagan's supply-side tax policy. Friedman's monetary policy. Keynes's deficit/spending policy. Pragmatic use of all three is going to be needed to get us out of our current economic pickle. ... BTW: Greenspan and Cox have admitted that their extreme-deregulation theories didn't work. They didn't and haven't renounced supply-side tax-policy theories -- and neither has Hub Blog.
'The Byner effect'
Hub Blog will be on Kevin's Pundit Review
show tonight, 7 p.m., on WRKO-AM 680
, talking about the election, socialism, $150,000 wardrobes and the 'Byner effect,'
or the grasping-at-straws hope by Republicans that Obama will fumble the ball at the goal line. ... I used to think McCain could keep Obama out of the red zone. But every time I reassert the race will be close, another poll comes out indicating otherwise
P.S. -- I'll be paying off
my Manny bet tonight as well. ...
'A New England Brawl'
You've probably heard the ad
: "I'll stand with President Bush. ... I'll stand with President Bush. ... I'll stand with President Bush." It's pretty amazing. A Republican bludgeoning a Democrat over the head for associating with a Republican. Could President Bush be any more unpopular? ...Update
-- N.H. voters aren't buying Sununu's desperate tactic.
A Russian wild boar?
Hit, shot and butchered right here in Massachusetts.
... I kind of like the Royalston farmer's entrepreneurial ecosystem contribution. ... BTW: The boar discovery reminded me to check up on the Maine Mystery Beast.
Turns out it was probably a Chow or Akita gone wild -- or a wolf-dog hybrid. I tilt toward the wolf-dog hybrid.
But that could be my prejudice, for I've always desired, from the bottom of my earthy heart, wolves
frolicking and hunting in our backyards. I want to be able to step out on my back porch, afternoon cocktail in hand, and hear the howl of nature before I retire to watch a Netflix. ...
'In a state of shocked disbelief,' Part II
Hub Blog heard Jay Sev
erin ranting last night about how Alan Greenspan renounced capitalism so he could keep the invitations flowing from the Georgetown dinner-party circuit. I know, I know: Huh? But here's the sad part: Severin isn't that far out of the libertarian/right-wing/Republican mainstream that views any type of regulation as a form of socialism. They don't accept that free enterprise + a little regulation = common sense economics. They see a slippery slope toward socialism. It's an extremist, adamant and absolutist view of the world. Not unlike the views of Ayn Rand. ... Needless to say: Greenspan and Christopher Cox aren't renouncing capitalism. They're admitting that some regulations are needed. The debate going foward isn't capitalism vs. socialism. For Christ's sake, not even the Chinese believe in socialism. The debate going forward is about what type of free enterprise system we want.
Speaking of Ayn Rand, Bill Moyers last night
briefly touched on the happy maiden angle before an interview with economist James Galbraith, son of the late John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith's type of free enterprise is not my cup of tea. Government would be too intrusive. But please note his response to the question about what caused the current mess:
It was the actual failure, the abandonment, the neglect of the supervisory regulatory responsibility. That's at the root of this.Just as you cannot prosper without a private economy.
Just as you cannot prosper without a private economy, you cannot prosper without an effective autonomous government capable of thinking for itself, capable of balancing things out, of standing for other interests, of standing for labor and consumers and for the public interest as a whole.
Doesn't sound like a '30s socialist to me. ...
'In a state of shocked disbelief'
is surprised that self-regulation didn't work on Wall Street. But self-regulation also didn't work with snake-oil salesmen in the 19th Century. So why is Greenspan now in 'shocked disbelief'? ... The 'flaw' that Greenspan now acknowledges was at the very heart of his ideology: At some point he intellectually dismissed common sense.
P.S. -- I do admire him for admitting he was wrong. Not enough people do so these days, including yours truly.
Another surgery? Part II
All you ever needed to know about Tom Brady's knee.
... Not only am I worried about a delay in his return. I'm also wondering if we're entering Joe Namath and Bobby Orr bum-knee territory. ...
'Let's make it a baker's dozen. I forgot to mention Lugo,' II
Bert calmly responds to John's response below
John, you ignorant slut*** The list points to weaknesses in the current team that need to be addressed. Whether the Red Sox finished in first or fourth, that list—and the passionate desire to see it worked—would exist. John’s reading something that isn’t there. The arrogance and high expectations exist in corners of Red Sox Nation, to be sure, but not in my post.
If I were feeling entitled and making demands, I would’ve filled the list with the names of high priced free agents or lopsided deals to steal talent from small market teams.
Truth is, I was happy they made it as far as they did. I didn’t expect them to make the second round. I’m tickled pink that they’re infusing the roster with young talent and still coming within one game of the World Series.
***--SNL Reference, not meant as an insult at all. Well worth watching if you haven’t seen it in a while.
Well worth it indeed. I hadn't seen it in years. Aykroyd's entire rapid-fire response, not just the opening line, is classic. ... John, the ball's in your video court. Defend yourself or concede.Update
-- From John to Bert: "Remember, I said it was the tone of his post; not the content. Bert--I'm with ya on that. And...for the record, I said I think you need to chill 'a tad'. A tad means a little."
One surgery and three additional 'procedures'
on Brady's knee -- with an outside chance of another surgery if the infection isn't controlled. Every complication leads to more delays. ... Tom doesn't seem worried.
But I am. ...
'Willie Sutton Goes to Harvard'
notes all the lawmakers eyeing universities' endowment funds as sources of money to dip into. ... Maybe lawmakers instead should analyze whether the government's own college-loan programs are part of the problem of skyrocketing college tuitions -- and whether they're risking a repeat of the subprime mess. An inkling of what could theoretically happen was on display a few years ago, when William Weld
was caught trying to profit from government-backed college loans. But Weld et gang made a foolish mistake (from a business standpoint): The profits didn't come from running colleges that received loans. The real profits would have come from bundling the loans off into securities, i.e. just as Wall Street did with subprime mortgages. It's highly unlikely the college-loan market will implode. The dynamics are different -- and, hopefully, policymakers, Wall Street and taxpayers have learned lessons from the subprime mess. But there are enough similarities to draw parallels and to ponder potential 'what ifs.' ...
... Seth Gitell
attended a recent Suffolk University conference on the subprime fiasco and came away astonished (my word, not his) at the misinformation out there on its causes, specifically conservative assertions that the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie Mae, etc. started the whole thing. I'm in general agreement with Seth -- with some caveats. As I've noted before
, government got the ball rolling on making mortgages available to lower-income people -- but it was an unregulated Wall Street that attached booster rockets to the ball. An excellent primer on the catastrophe is Mark Zandi's new book 'Financial Shock.'
I'm only a few chapters into it and already learning a lot. Zandi, an economist who works closely with the New England Economic Partnership, lays it out in chapters such as 'Everyone Should Own a Home' (i.e. the government's role in making home ownership almost a 'right'), 'Chairman Greenspan Counts on Housing' (start the booster-rocket countdown), 'Global Money Men Want a Piece' (ignition lighted), and 'Bad Lenders Drive Out the Good' (takeoff! -- with a little deregulation assist from the SEC). ...
'The Republicans need to get throttled'
Reason magazine's Radley Balko
explains why seemingly irrational support for Obama among some conservatives and libertarians is actually rational. ... It's why I've tuned out alleged conservatives who once supported pork spending to maintain power and are now screaming 'socialism' when it comes to Obama. ...
'Let's make it a baker's dozen. I forgot to mention Lugo.'
has compiled a list of things to do in the Sox's offseason. I agree with most of them. ...Update
-- John writes in:
I agree with a lot of Bert's points as well. But I'm a little bugged by his tone. Let's not start turning into Yankees fans, with a sense of 'entitlement' about making it to the WS every year. This was a fun season--nothing to be ashamed of, and that ALCS Game 5, as Roger Angell even felt obliged to say, was one for the ages. I'm not feeling bad about it. Bert needs to chill just a tad.
Still close or blowout?
, I'm impressed with Obama's double-digit poll leads -- and I'm starting to believe this could be a blowout. But I still have trouble believing the race won't be close for the reasons recently cited here
. ... As for the controversial Bradley Effect/racism angle, I find intriguing the observation of Jon's source
, who said Obama didn't win any Dem primaries when he didn't have a 7-point lead on the eve of a vote. Sounds about right. That's the number I'll keep in the back of my mind over the last few days. ... Please: I'm not saying all opponents of Obama are racist. Not even close. I recognize there are very legitimate and logical reasons to oppose the guy (some of which I agree with). But you'd have to be naive to think race won't matter.Update
-- The AP says McCain and Obama are 'essentially running even.'
Go figure.Update II
-- Now comes an IBD/TIPP poll
also showing a tight race.
'Who’s on Line? Even the Referees Don’t Know'
I didn't get a chance yesterday to post Reader No. 1's astute post-game analysis of the Pats game. But here's one of his non-dated paragraphs that jumped out at me:
Matt Cassel takes a lot of sacks... but I don't think we can blame it entirely on the pace of his decision-making, mindful of how Brady got pounded in the 2008 Super Bowl. May have written this sooner, but methinks the NFL film-room intern shut-ins saw something in that game that we mere mortals did not during the first 18 games of last season and passed the word around...
He's probably right. So maybe the Pats can counter with an offensive formation
like the one above. It's hilarious -- and apparently driving high-school opponents up a wall. It's probably illegal in the NFL. But it'd be fun to watch. ... Photo courtesy of New York Times.
'Wurzelbacher is the man,' Part II
Hub Blog finds himself in an odd predicament: Just as I'm beginning to think Wurzelbacher isn't the man, the right-wing echo chamber declares him the man. I'll explain below. But first Reader No. 1:
I'm waiting for someone to hypothesize how the "Joe the Plumber" phenomenon merely symptomizes how the housing meltdown has driven American contractors to extreme and irrational behavior. It's just False Consciousness, dammit!
Or maybe there's just something about "master plumbers" ...such authoritarian overtones... not to mention historical bad karma.
It's not that I don't think Joe was mistreated by the media. He was. It's just that his tale isn't resonating out there as much as I thought it would. In the first link above, Byron York quotes Tito the Contruction Worker, who accuses Obama of being 'associated with terrorists,' and a self-described conservative woman as rallying to Joe's defense. Not exactly a stampede of Independents to the working-man cause. Then there's the dreadful Jonah Goldberg
citing Joe and Tito the Construction Worker as symbols of a different America, blah, blah, blah. (In the non-online Herald version of Jonah's column, he cites York's reporting -- a near-perfect example of an ideological echo chamber at work.) ... BUT I still think the Joe incident -- more as a result of Obama's answer -- finally jolted the McCain camp away from its Ayers/Acorn line of attack toward the more substantive tax policy and economic line of attack. ...
'Wurzelbacher is the man'
I'm not a licensed blogger. Can I write this blog post? I'm also not a licensed journalist. But we won't get into that. ... Anyway, the Chicago Tribune's John Kass
rightly rips into the media for its mugging of Joe the Plumber. The biggest mistake the media and critics keep making is saying Joe Wurzelbacher wants to make $250,000. But here's the transcript
of his encounter with Obama. He's talking about 'the company' making $250,000. Big difference between a person making $250,000 (i.e. income) and a company making $250,000 (i.e. revenue). ... What's a little scary is that both Obama and Joe don't seem to understand the difference between income and revenue as they apply to taxes. One could be overseeing an economy soon. The other could be running a company soon. Not that you need a Harvard MBA to do either. Look what George did to the economy and the firms he ran. But still ... Michael Barone
doesn't quite come out and say it. But 'spread the wealth around' could be the most memorable four words muttered during this election, though the transcript shows Obama meant it in a more innocuous way than critics contend. ...Update
-- Paul Krugman
takes some shots at Joe. But at least he knows the difference between income and revenue. ...Update II
-- Ben writes in:
Is Joe the plumber really an innocent media victim, or did he rather enjoy his fame? It seemed that at first anyway he could not get enough of the attention. It's one thing to get mentioned by a candidate, another to start giving interviews.
Joe is no less or more important than any other voter, but he was clearly used by the McCain campaign and will continue to be used so long as the McCain campaign, including the Senator himself, think that they can gain any political advantage by doing so. If they think they can gain .1 percent in a poll they will wrap him in a warm embrace. If they think otherwise, his name will never be mentioned again.
It was interesting to learn as well that Mr. Wurzelbacher would fare far better under Obama's tax plan than under McCain's.
And from Reader No. 1:
On Joe the Plumber, and thanks for link to the transcript - the candidate's pleasant condescension is quite striking. It almost passes for empathy.
The flat tax answer is revealing too. Obama seems to be talking about a consumption tax, when virtually every advocate of the flat tax combined it with essentially eliminating the present tax code (ie no deductions). That's an appealing idea that never went anywhere. ...
'If his friend’s experience in Boston is any guide …’
The WSJ's Matthew Kaminski
looks ahead to a possible Obama White House and one-party Congress, based on what's happened to Patrick in Massachusetts. No new ground broken. But he did his reporting. I liked his description of Patrick's gubernatorial campaign as "autobiolgraphical, pseudo-post-ideological." But I'm not sure about calling Sal "the Nancy Pelosi of Beacon Hill." ...
It was the most fun three innings of baseball
I've seen in a long time. ... Maybe it was part of the magic of last night, but I never doubted Drew would hit in that last run -- and he hit it in. ...
McCain's third surge?
show McCain gaining
. ... The race was bound to tighten again. But there's something in the air -- namely the economy, taxes and Joe the Plumber -- that can work to McCain's advantage in coming weeks. He may yet veer off on another worthless Ayers/Acorn tangent. But if he sticks to the economy/taxes/Joe themes, he can still pull this race off. ... Attacks on Joe the Plumber by Obama and liberals
will boomerang if handled wrong -- and I think they're handling it wrong. Joe the Plumber may turn out to be an angry Republican plant or phony. But what he represents on the surface is enormously sympathetic. Does Obama really want to alienate white middle-class guys who are struggling to make ends meet? Does he really think $250,000 is a lot of money to buy and/or run a business? Does he realize many small-business owners, who are as appalled by the antics of Republicans and Wall Street tycoons as other Americans, aren't exactly keen on 'spreading the wealth' to the bottom after 'spreading the wealth' to the very top post-Wall Street meltdown? ... Obama also doesn't need this
: rumors that one of his first acts will be to jam through Congress labor's cherished card-check proposal. ... BTW: McCain's first surge was in Iraq. The second surge was during the GOP primary. ... BTW II: Reader No. 1 sends in this item
about debates. Agree with most of it. I usually don't watch debates. They're boring. But they do, now and then, impact races, such as Ford's famous assertion the Soviets didn't control Eastern Europe, etc. The dust needs to settle a bit more to determine if Joe the Plumber is one of those rare instances when a debate topic matters.
Ayers, Ayers and more Ayers
Hub Blog liked this David Frum
reaction to the hammer-away-at-Ayers tactic:
Ayers is repellent. It's awful that Obama kept company with him. And yes it's true his characterization of the relationship is less than forthright. Still, in the midst of today's financial panic, I cannot help thinking that trying to win this election by hitting this theme is a little like Herbert Hoover trying to save himself in 1932 by pointing out that Gov. Roosevelt had signed a petition in favor of Sacco and Vanzetti ...
But Reader No. 1 is hammering away at the Ayers theme, saying he wishes others could have hit harder on it last night:
Judging by her performance on Imus this morning, I wish Laura Ingraham could've debated Obama - much better and sharper questions and an on-point diagnosis of McCain's problem with the press (in a nutshell, now that he's running against a real Liberal instead of his own party, he doesn't understand why all of his old friends aren't with him anymore).
Or maybe Sol Stern should've debated Obama. His WSJ column today provides valuable insight into someone who might be one of Obama's 'Chief Investment Officers' on Education. Also see this IBD report on the 'Investment' results in Chicago (makes the recent Dow look good by comparison).
All I can say is there are those who think Bill Ayers is significant during these times of war and financial crisis -- and those who don't. I'm among the latter. Unless Ayers bombs another building or harms Wall Street worse than Wall Street has already harmed itself, this will be my last Ayers post before the election.Update
-- An update isn't a new post, so I'll allow Reader No. 1 a response (with my response to his response following):
The formatting on my quote from the Ayers post isn't quite right... but aside from that and with greatest respect: you entirely missed the point on Ayers which is: the deleterious influence and expanded scope that he and like-minded thinkers may have on American education going forward (please see the Stern article again).
I did see the Stern article. I did get your point. I still don't think Ayers and his education policy etc. are the major issues facing the country at this point -- and therefore they most certainly don't warrant the amount of time and attention being heaped on them by some on the right.
'Get ready to feel the pain'
Thanks, Wall Street!
... The thanks can be taken three ways: 1.) Wall Street's recklessness can now be felt locally, as the state cuts deep into services. 2.) Wall Street's recklessness has the beneficial side effect of reducing state government. 3.) Wall Street's recklessness will make it more difficult for people to vote for Question 1. The Globe
sees it as a combination of 1.) and 3.) Hub Blog sees it as a combination of 2.) and 3.) -- and I'm not happy about 3.). Even before Wall Street's meltdown over the past month, the state knew its budget was out of whack. Spending increased. Vetoes were overridden. Reforms were merely talked about. But now big-government types can blame it all on Wall Street -- obscuring and overwhelming legitimate, long-time gripes about state government. ... I've said it before but I'll say it again: One of the biggest ironies of the swashbuckling era of laissez-faire policies is that it's led to a larger dependence on government -- or at least larger government than it should be in Massachusetts. I hope I'm misreading the public mood -- and that Question 1 passes and forces major reforms in Massachusetts. But my hunch is that voters will pull back and that lawmakers and the permanent bureaucracy will skate once again. ...Update
-- Kevin writes in: "What about Option 4? Option 4, Deval’s budget cuts will make it easier for people to vote for Question 1. You looking for cuts Deval? Here are some cuts. Yes on Q1 is how taxpayers can help the state slim down to meet new fiscal realities. After all, we are all in this together!"
'I do this with little joy'
Another Republican, this time Tufts' Dan Drezner
, endorses Obama. ... I'm definitely tilting in the same 'lukewarm' direction. Obama will inevitably disappoint. But he can't be as bad as what we've endured over the past eight years. ...Update
-- John writes in re Obama:
I'm with you. Obama's pretty much got it in the bag now. Only thing that will be interesting to watch over the next two years, is whether Andrew Sullivan's inevitable disappointment sets in as quickly and emotionally as his initial enthusiasm for Bush.Update II
-- Not Ernie
posts on Christopher Buckley's endorsement
of Obama and asks my thoughts on it. I guess I'd respond that I share Buckley's near disgust with Republicans/conservatives or whatever they are these days.
'Right where we want them ...'
is undeterred: "Considering the how the Red Sox have played the ALCS historically, we have the Rays right where we want them."Update
- 10.15.08 -- Just a flesh wound.
seems to have snapped. Will John McCain's fortunes also change? I think so. The race will probably tighten now and end up where it was destined to end up: close. ... I heard McCain harp yesterday about one-party government led by the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika, pushing issues such as union card-checks, etc. It may not be enough for McCain. But it's still a compelling argument. Much better than the Kerry Healey coddling-criminals tactic. ...
'I strongly suspect cloning is involved'
wonders how the San Diego Chargers transformed themselves from Miami doormat to Patriots dominator. But I'm left wondering how an injury to Tom Brady transformed the Pats defense from league dominator to league doormat. ...
Wehrmacht attacks Stow
I was out painting my father's home this weekend in Sudbury. Every 20 minutes or so, we'd hear a loud BOOM in the distance, look up in the sky and see picture-perfect blue fall skies, no thunder clouds in sight, and we'd think, What was that? It was merely German paratroopers attacking Stow.
'The Pitcher Everyone Hates to Watch,' Part II
'With mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments'
Most of you have probably seen this David Brooks column
. But what caught my attention was his use of the 'mirror-image' metaphor to describe the interaction between Republicans and Democrats, right and left, etc. I've harped on the mirror-image phenomenon here
etc. It's what happens when one or both sides in a contest (such as politics) so despise each other that they feel compelled to counter everything an opponent says or does. ... Whitaker Chambers
once noted this mirror-image phenomenon in terms of Randian economics:
One Big Brother is, of course, a socializing elite (as we know, several cut-rate brands are on the shelves). Miss Rand, as the enemy of any socializing force, calls in a Big Brother of her own contriving to do battle with the other. … The author (hasn’t), apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing.
I'm still in a sort of state of disbelief that Alan Greenspan, Christopher Cox etc. actually bought into, and tried to implement, a variation of Randian laissez-faire economic policies. Greenspan is now left muttering something about how it was the humans, not the theory, that were flawed. ...
The coddling-criminals offensive
Are other Massachusetts residents feeling a last-gasp sense of deja vous
with every Ayers and ACORN attack on Obama by McCain? ... Of course Massachusetts most definitely
isn't like the rest of America. But the camapign resemblances are getting eerie. ...
'Raging at the vitriol heaped on them'
spotted this dry-wit article
about the latest literay battle in France, involving Michel Houellebecq and Bernard-Henri Lévy. Houellebecq's undeniably sad and unfortunate upbringing reminds me of someone else
The details of my life are quite inconsequential. ... Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a 15-year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. ...
'The Pitcher Everyone Hates To Watch ...'
Threw a gem last night.
... I told you
my pessimism is usually a good thing. But here's the bad news: I'm beginning to believe again. Don't worry. The pessimism will return. ...
From Ayn Rand to Whittaker Chambers to 'Plan B,' Part II
Read Adam’s posts about the anger at McCain rallies
and the anger of Jay Severin
, as he and others rant about Obama and socialism and terrorists etc. Now read the passage below by Whittaker Chambers
about the characters in Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged,’
keeping in mind that the great Atlas Shrugged experiment by Alan Greenspan and Christopher Cox has just failed on Wall Street and that some conservatives are only now appreciating the irony that their support for extreme laissez-faire policies has backfired, for the evil Robin Hood could now well become the next president of the United States of America:
In (Rand’s) fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly. This kind of simplifying pattern, of course, gives charm to most primitive story known as: The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness. …
The Children of Darkness are caricatures, too; and they are really oozy. But at least they are caricatures of something identifiable. Their archetypes are Left-Liberals, New Dealers, Welfare Statists, One Worlders, or, at any rate, such ogreish semblances of these as may stalk the nightmares of those who think little about people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies. (And neither Right nor Left, be it noted in passing, has a monopoly of such dreamers, though the horrors in their nightmares wear radically different masks and labels.)
In Atlas Shrugged, all this debased inhuman riffraff is lumped as "looters." ... "Looters" loot because they believe in Robin Hood, and have got a lot of other people believing in him, too. Robin Hood is the author's image of absolute evil — robbing the strong (and hence good) to give to the weak (and hence no good). All "looters" are base, envious, twisted, malignant minds, motivated wholly by greed for power, combined with the lust of the weak to tear down the strong, out of a deepseated hatred of life and secret longing for destruction and death.
From Ayn Rand to Whittaker Chambers to 'Plan B'
By my count, we're at Plan H or I. There's been the August 2007 money pump, the winter Bear Stearns bailout, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeovers, the AIG nationalization, money-market insurance, the $700 billion asset purchases, debt guarantees, the latest capital-injection proposal etc. Assuming yours truly missed something and we're now at Plan I, Plan J comes this weekend.
Lot of talk these days about Alan Greenspan's respect for Ayn Rand, thanks to this NYT story
on Al's probable post-Wall Street-meltdown legacy. After reading the article, the Hub Blog mind immediately thought of one of the most famous pieces ever published by National Review, Whittaker Chambers's classic 1957 takedown of Ayn Rand.
Read it. Especially liberals. (Hey, I'm reading Paul Krugman
more often these days, so liberals might as well read something from the sane right during these crazy times.) The piece by Chambers -- yes, the Chambers of Alger Hiss and pumpkin fame -- is a devastating indictment of the utopian individualism and materialism advocated by Rand and so admired by Greenspan and many CEOs who consistently list Rand's Atlas Shrugged
as one of their favorite novels. Reading Chambers' piece again today (I last read it years ago), it's shocking how he almost predicted current right-wing dogmatism, nonsense and viciousness, as spouted these days by the likes of Sean Hannity and Jay Severin
, etc. Chambers even touches upon the intellectual 'convergence' of the hard Left and Right, something I've inadequately tried to convey via my own mirror-image metaphors.
It's not too far of a reach to say that what we're witnessing today -- politically and economically -- is the divided world that Rand advocated and that Chambers warned about 51 long years ago.
Manny Derangement Syndrome can lead to another odd form of derangement: Actually agreeing with Tim McCarver.
... I'm not going to get in another round over Manny. I liked him. Wish it had turned out better. Regret he embarrassed himself and his defenders in Boston. ...Update
: The Simmons piece
was too much, a sort of deranged opposite of Manny Derangement Syndrome. ...Update II
finds something we can all agree on: 'Seriously, I find that the more I'm hated the happier I am.'
Nationalizing an industry, Part II
It's not 'ownership stakes.'
It's nationalizing an industry
. I'll repeat what I said last month: Don't like big government? Then regulate early, lightly and intelligently. Otherwise, you get nationalization. ... Until conservatives grasp this point, they're going to get socialism both as a remedy and as a permanent preventative measure in the future. They blew it by embracing utopian laissez-faire policies. They'll blow it again if they argue for utopian laissez-faire policies in the coming debate over regulations. ... Reader Barry, one of Hub Blog's original readers, sends in the following insightful note about the quandary facing McCain, though I dislike his description of Obama's policies as 'anti-American':
McCain loses these debates in the opening minutes because he doesn’t understand how to clarify the economic and political terrain (battlefield, really) for voters, and then work his way across it in a manner that convert undecided voters to his candidacy.Update
The broad outline is simple: McCain has to defend principled, democratic capitalism against the “buccaneer capitalism” that has been practiced by/spiraled out of control on Wall Street, with a heaping dose of coercion from Democratic legislators and Washington lobbyists, AND, at the same time, defend principled capitalism against the anti-American socialism that is embedded in the economic proposals (and, for that matter, the foreign policy proposals, also) and way too many of the political associations of Senator Obama.
The McCain campaign can’t seem to dance (express) this dialectic: that they're fighting this two front war to regain voters confidence in capitalism, and to protect capitalism from the redistributionist socialism embedded in Obama's economic policies in order to win voters' votes on the economy.
Reform, alone, isn't enough, and they're in danger of relying on it so much that it comes across as merely a campaign catchphrase--neither a theme nor a strategy.
-- Obama hasn't 'closed the deal yet.'
No kidding. Despite McCain's quandaries. ...Update II
-- From Reader No. 1: "On the topic of government decisionmaking in today's crisis environment, I think this Barron's piece
said it best." ...Update III
-- Bob writes in: "...I agree completely with your comment (see main post). ... Except that it's premature to call this 'nationalization,' which to me means at least majority control by the government. There are a lot of other ways this might go. But, we will see." ...
My response: Bob's technically right and I'm technically wrong. Nationalization implies majority ownership. But I think the government will have virtual control even with minority ownership, due to the way the bailout bill is written, the weakness of investment banks and public sentiment (see reaction to AIG's $400,000 spa-trip expenditure). BTW: I think nationalization, partial or full, is probably necessary and inevitable at this point. Paul Krugman was initially correct: capital infusions, not necessarily getting bad assets off of books, is what investment banks need in the short run. Buying up assets will take time.Update IV
-- Hitchens on our Banana Republic
. It's depressing because it's true.
Another local book
makes it on Hub Blog’s short-term list of tomes to read
. Local write-ups here
About $1.5 trillion and counting ...
that Maude Hurd
! She's brought down
the whole world! ...
'That's it - STORM THE BASTILLE! '
The right-wing Armchair Gen. Savin Hill has had it:
I just heard that AIG executives, one week after the taxpayer bailout of $85 BILLION, went on a "retreat" to a luxury spa and racked up a bill of more than $400,000.
That's it - STORM THE BASTILLE! To the ramparts comrades! Drag the rotten "royalty" of American society (CEOs) out from behind their 18-seat kitchen islands and throw them to the guillotine!
Of course we can't really do that, but we can do the next best thing: financially decapitate them by capping CEO pay. You know what a rock-bottomed conservative I am, but this is the last straw. Prior "captains of industry" actually accomplished things. These bastards just game the system with their cronies and walk away. ...
(Please remember me when the Robespierres start accusing the petite-bourgeoise like me of complicity that I called the loudest for the heads of the CEOs.)
We'll hunt 'em down all the way to their Vermont cheese farms! ...Update
-- The revolution is already starting to eat its own. In an email exchange, I told the Armchair General that if mobs confronted me, I'd have to point out that he actually makes more money than me. To which the general responded, " and I'll say: 'Wait! You don't want me! There's an executive vice president in the neighborhood' ..."
'The end of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as we know it,' II
A reader writes in re my 'surprise' that the presidential race is still close:
You don't know why the polls are so close? Yes, you do. So do I. We all do.
I admit it didn't hit me until last evening while talking to someone about the race: The Bradley Effect. I'm not one to sling around charges of racism. But you have to wonder why Obama doesn't have a double-digit lead at this point. He's a hesitant bore. McCain's run a surprisingly spirited campaign. The country has been divided along red-blue lines for years. All are true. But there's racisim in this world and country -- and Obama's probably going to need a fatter lead if he's going to win. ...Update
-- From Reader No. 1: "Please see this thoughtful post by Nate Silver
." Points well taken. It's a complicated issue. I know that. But I find it very, very, very hard to believe that racism won't be a factor at some level in voting. ...
Not just the Sox.
But also the 'new Herald.'
The smaller paper is now the same size as the NY Post and NY Daily News. ... Predictions: A.) Tampa in the ALCS. (Remember that my pessimism is usually a good sign.) B.) The Globe will be in tabloid format -- though not in tabloid tone -- in less than ten years (tilting toward five years, depending on the future of the Herald). Barron's, Christian Science Monitor and Times of London are already there. ...Update
-- From Reader No. 1:
Is it possible the Globe already is a tabloid? Both should fit nicely inside a home delivery copy of the NYT...
OT and Sidekick are merely experimental precursors of what's to come. ...
'The end of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as we know it'
Isn't the above quote
the best reason for
supporting Question 1? ... Switching political gears: Of course Obama would win the election
if it was held today. But I'm with Mickey: 'Don't unpanic, Dems!'
I'm surprised the election is still even close. ... BTW: Scroll up on Mickey's link. McCain should be hammering away at the split-powers argument. ...
'The inky, oil-drenched bowels of ...'
Today is a sad day
: It's the last time the Herald presses will hum and clunk at One Herald Square. There were a lot of choked-up good-byes on Friday at the Herald, as the weekday press shift said farewell and left the building for the last time. It's an end of an era. It's going to be strange walking past the ancient and abandoned printing presses tomorrow. I'm optimistic the Herald will be around for a while. But it won't be the same without the presses and the cast of characters who somehow made them run. ...Update
-- I've added the photo, via the Herald
, to give an idea how old the presses are at the plant. How they kept them operating for so long, I don't know. ...
The average weight of Brockton High School's starting offensive
line is now 262 pounds. Hub Blog has harped on this issue before, here
: High-school football players are too damn big. They need weight limits. Their health is at risk. ... FYI: Hub Blog was the largest starting offensive lineman on my high-school football team many years ago. My weight then: 192 pounds. ... FYI II: Don't tell me weight limits, at any level, will hurt the game. John Hannah
, one of the greatest offensive linemen ever, weighed 265 pounds during his pro playing days, smaller than some of today's Brockton High School players. ...
'So Mr. Mudd made a fateful choice'
Hub Blog doesn't need his brother to nominate this piece
as an early contender for Article of the Week -- not to be confused with last week's Article of the Week.
It might be described as a look at the government-getting-the-ball-rolling
phase of the subprime mess. Read it. This is also reality. They're all there for the red-meat righties: Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and -- drumroll, please -- Barney Frank. (But not the Community Reinvestment Act and ACORN, damn it.) Note the 2004 meeting between Fannie Mae's Daniel H. Mudd and the odious Angelo R. Mozilo, the Countrywide honcho who put pressure on FM to strap on its own booster rockets to subprime-mortgage lending:
Mr. Mozilo, who did not return telephone calls seeking comment, told Mr. Mudd that Countrywide had other options. For example, Wall Street had recently jumped into the market for risky mortgages. Firms like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs had started bundling home loans and selling them to investors — bypassing Fannie and dealing with Countrywide directly.
“You’re becoming irrelevant,” Mr. Mozilo told Mr. Mudd, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting who requested anonymity because the talks were confidential. In the previous year, Fannie had already lost 56 percent of its loan-reselling business to Wall Street and other competitors.
“You need us more than we need you,” Mr. Mozilo said.
I also loved this from a hedge-fund hotshot pressuring a Fannie executive to ramp it up:
“Are you stupid or blind?” the investor roared, according to someone who heard the call, but requested anonymity. “Your job is to make me money!”
It was an unholy alliance of the stupid and blind. It truly was.
'Shining city on a hill'
Sarah Palin shouldn't misuse a John Winthrop quote and expect a Bostonian not to notice
Was John McCain right about the SEC's Christopher Cox?
Hub Blog's brother nominates this piece
as Article of the Week -- and I wholeheartedly concur. It's about a fateful April 28, 2004 meeting at which the SEC decided to exempt Wall Street firms from debt-ratio limits -- and the consequences of that now momentous decision. Read it. This is a reality. This really happened. The article presents indisputable facts backed up by an audio recording of the meeting (see accompanying '2004 S.E.C Meeting' mp3 link to the left of the story). This is the day Wall Street attached booster rockets
to the subprime-mortgage market. This is what we are now bailing out with tax dollars. Now think of this -- after reading the article and/or listening to the tape -- the next time pseudo conservatives harp exclusively on the Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Barney Frank, etc., etc., etc. They are untethered from reality, as an acquaintence recently put it to me, if they continue to deny Wall Street's primary role in its own self-destruction. None other than Christopher Cox, who was not at the 2004 meeting but who subsequently gutted a SEC risk-management committee, flatly states: “The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work." ... He's not talking about the Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, conservative readers. ...
Speaking of pseudo conservatives: the Hub Blog brother also recommends this article
-- and I once again concur. The Republican Party is in shambles. Business executives and professionals -- once the backbone of the GOP -- are disgusted. But the GOP will still have its Joe Six Packs! ...
'(0.5) x ($100) + (0.5) x (-$100) = $0'
behind coin-flip gambling as applied to Wall Street credit default swaps and the bailout plan. It confirms, I think, my suspicion we're screwed no matter what because there's no way to avoid pain when you're talking about the numbers we're talking about. ...
Here's another good reason
not to hold your breath on proposed budget reforms
. As much I admire Gov. Patrick for at least talking about budget reforms, it's still talk until it's done 'next year' -- and no one is quite sure who's going to be around 'next year,' except for a Legislature once again dominated by Democrats who have blocked reforms in the past. ... I didn't see last night's Palin-Biden debate. But this morning I enjoyed reading Dan's live-blogging analysis
10:09 p.m. Live-blogging now being powered by an alternative energy source — Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. ...
10:24 p.m. If I'd been playing a drinking game based on the word "maverick," I'd be passed out on the floor right now.
He also recommends Peggy Noonan.
I do too. I'd also recommend Charles Krauthammer
, who's developed a grudging respect for the Hesitant Bore:
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said of Franklin Roosevelt that he had a "second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament." Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self-definition -- do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.
Unlike yours truly, Charles thinks the hestitant-bore tactic is deliberate and effective. ...
'Patrick is expected to have an easier time'
It's about time.
Congratulations to the Patrick administration for proposing to abolish the Turnpike. But the short reason why possible reform didn't come sooner is simple: The Democratic-controlled Legislature. Right up until Milena Del Valle's tragic death two years ago, Democrats blocked any attempt at true reform, even changing laws to deny Mitt Romney control of the Turnpike. One death and millions of dollars later
, we're finally seeing some movement. It's a disgrace it took this long. ... P.S. -- One can't help but ponder the proposal's timing with Question 1 on the ballot next month. Sorry for being cynical. But Beacon Hill induces cynicism. Action on the plan isn't expected until 'next year.' Enough said. ...
'He now has a narrower advantage'
After a solid debate performance on Friday and the dramtic events on Wall Street, Barack's poll numbers are narrowing
? I guess I'm not the only one who finds him a hesitant bore
at times. ... From Reader No. 1 on a certain well-known bailout proponent: "No comment."
... But what I'd like to know is this: Who was chairman before Jan. 2007 and how much money did he get from financial firms? Wall Street has bought off both parties, something Kevin Phillips has noted in his most recent book
. ... I thought Barney acquitted himself pretty well in this op-ed
. But it probably won't persuade those who believe that ACORN is the center of all evil or that ACORN is the answer to battling evil. ... There's a mirror-image irony in there somewhere. ...Update
on the post immediately below: "I agree it’s interesting to see the free market champions on Wall St squirm waiting for the safety net to kick in. But if the 'free' market is only 'free' from real risk for those people, it’s a fleeting warmth."Update II